01/26/2015 11:28 AM
BATON ROUGE – The food markets of Barcelona host thousands of customers daily, from tourists eager to sample fresh fruits and grilled seafood to neighborhood cooks in search of high-quality ingredients. While other countries experienced major shifts away from the public-market model in the 20th century, Barcelona’s food markets remained fundamental to the city’s identity, economy and culture. Montserrat Miller’s “Feeding Barcelona, 1714–1975,” available from LSU Press, examines the causes behind the extraordinary vibrancy and tenacity of the Barcelonan market system.
Miller argues that recurrent revolutionary uprisings in Barcelona, beginning in the
mid-18th century, forced ongoing collaboration between the public and private sectors
to ensure adequate and effective food distribution. Municipal support permitted small-scale
food sellers in Barcelona to survive in a period more commonly characterized by increasing
capitalization in food retail, while the importance of food markets to Barcelona’s
social networks enhanced vendors’ ability to recognize and adapt to changing customer
In addition, a high number of stalls owned by women contributed both to the financial
well-being of vendor families and to the sociability patterns that placed neighborhood
food markets at the center of daily life in the city. The shared commitment of vendors,
shoppers, and government officials to a market model of food sales created the lasting
and unique market system that persists in Barcelona to this day.
Drawing from extensive archival research and numerous interviews with individuals
at all levels of the market system, “Feeding Barcelona, 1714–1975” is the first detailed
history of the historical and social influences that create urban food markets.
Miller is professor of history at Marshall University in West Virginia, where she
specializes in food markets, gender studies and modern Spain.
To request a review copy or set up an interview with the author, please contact Jenny Keegan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on Monday, January 26, 2015